For the past few months I’ve had at least three, and sometimes four or more, projects going at the same time. I’m doing research for and writing two novels and a five-thousand word short story. In between, I fit in blog posts, author interviews, reviews, and posts for social media. All that must make me happy. Right? I’m a writer, and a writer enjoys thinking, creating, writing. The truth is I do appreciate this new phase of my writing career. The ideas are there, people are asking me to write, and I love the variety. The main problem I have is finding time. I keep telling myself that each project is important. If I drop one for a week because I’m on a roll with another—hey, it’ll be fine.
For instance, because I wanted to finish my short story that has a submission deadline in March in time to run it by my writing group in February, I gave up novel writing for a week or so in order to research, write, and revise the story. Now, I’m back gathering research for my barely-begun novel and writing the fourth book in my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteryseries. Down side—I needed to think through my mystery from the beginning before I could continue writing.
Rethinking the story wasn’t all bad. It helped me resolve aspects of the plot, which is energizing. Too, I feel a freedom at having completed one project and have another waiting to delve into. Even writing this blog post about my multitasking woes has helped pacify the irrational tension I experience when I dwell on lack of time and focus. In fact, to make life easier, I’ve concocted a list of what I or any author might do when in this situation:
1. Prioritize a list of your projects and their deadlines, if any.
(Don’t give yourself unreasonable deadlines where they don’t exist—having nervous breakdowns isn’t good for authors.)
2. Each morning, compose a list of the writing you want to accomplish each day—goals.
(It can be just one thing—a chapter or a number of words. Trying to write three chapters when your day includes cooking and cleaning house for company might lead to writing in a straight jacket.)
3. Be flexible—carry over unfinished goals to another day.
(You might run into a snag that takes you back to the Internet, the library, or a field trip for more research—or to watching those funny cat videos on Facebook.)
4. Have patience—don’t let interruptions by family or friends drive you up the wall.
(Spiders and flies don’t write well.)
5. Remember, you read more than one book, watch more than one television series, and have conversations with more than one friend and manage to keep them all straight. Writing projects are no different.